An event claimed as the world’s largest philosophy and music festival is returning to Herefordshire this summer after a two-year lay-off.

But the organisers of HowTheLightGetsIn in Hay-On-Wye on June 2-5, which partly coincides with the Platinum Jubilee bank holiday, say they are hoping to allay locals’ fears of late-night disturbance.

“Our timetable of events across the weekend will be begin no earlier than 9am and end at 1am at latest,” they said in their application for an event licence.

“We have taken the decision to end the event one hour earlier in the evening than our previous events as we recognized that a 2am finish was of concern to some of the town residents.”

The talks, debates, comedy and cabaret events in the show tents will be amplified “at a limited volume”, it adds.

The event is expected to draw between 2,500 and 3,000 visitors, though “for the purposes of the premises licence, the capacity will be 4,999”, the application said.

The site lies on the English side of the border north of the Dulas Brook, on a long strip of land between the river Wye and commercial properties along Newport Street, the B4350.

Organised by the Institute of Art and Ideas since 2008, HowTheLightGetsIn, its name taken from a lyric by the late Canadian singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, has since 2018 spawned an autumn edition on London’s Hampstead Heath.

Due to the pandemic, its 2020 edition was a virtual affair, while last year it held a physical event in London only.


This year's Hay-on-Wye line-up includes Mercury Prize-winning Asian electronica star Talvin Singh, Irish musician and actress Camille O'Sullivan, and biologist Richard Dawkins, with more headline acts due to be announced shortly.

Tickets for the weekend are now available, priced from £128, with discounts for students and under-25s, and children under 12 free.